Claudio Roditi – Brazilliance x 4 (Resonance Records 2008)

Charles Mingus would have loved the way Claudio Roditi plays his horn. He is most like Clarence “Gene” Shaw. And like Shaw, Roditi knows the importance of the space between the notes; when to play a note; a quick flurry, or merely a short intricate phrase… and when not to play. His voice is unique; his sound is bright, delivered in short, round bursts of emotion and energy [...]

Rob Thorsen – Lasting Impression (Pacific Coast Jazz 2009)

Rob Thorsen is a well-studied bassist. He has not only depth of knowledge of rhythm and harmonics, but also has flawless technique expression and a wonderful intonation. On Lasting Impression, a rather prophetically entitled record, he displays all of his skills in glorious fashion. There is also a sense that Thorsen wants to let listeners know where the musical influences are coming from [...]

Tiempo Libre – Bach in Havana (Sony Classical 2009)

The title of this record – Bach in Havana – should not come as a surprise, after all there is a yet-to-be-fully-discovered European Baroque and Classical music tradition that bubbles and boils in conservatories just barely under the skin of Cuban life, nestling cheek-by jowl with Santeria worship. This culture is very real and continues to turn out a stunning number of brilliant musicians [...]

Lori Bell – The Music of Djavan (Resonance Records 2008)

Despite whatever misgivings the producers may have had with regard to this project, namely that that jazz project was centered on the music of Djavan, appears to be misguided. Perhaps Djavan, among the pantheon of Brasilian musicians is least “Jazzy” and more “pop” – a thesis that is somehow incomprehensible and even nonsensical [...]

Gabriel Alegria: Nuevo Mundo

Every once in awhile there comes a musician who, when playing his or her chosen instrument, seems to carry within a vital life-force that...

Eva Scow + Dusty Brough – Sharon of the Sea (Adventure Music)

There is something in the music of Eva Scow that is so unique that the only two other musicians who come to mind when she is playing are Joni Mitchell and perhaps Bela Fleck. And here is why: As a composer and arranger, she hears music in the same playful, unvarnished and guileless manner that Joni Mitchell does. Yet like Mitchell, she is a sublime harmonic colorist [...]

Geoffrey Keezer – Aurea (ArtistShare 2008)

Geoffrey Keezer is a pianist of immense technical ability. As a musician and composer he is able to express himself in different idioms and settings. On Aurea, for instance, he makes a remarkable foray into the realm of Afro-Peruvian music. And he emerges from this colorful expedition with such a high degree of excellence that you wonder why more practitioners of jazz [...]

Venissa Santi: Bienvenida

The high art of this record, Bienvenida is no accident. This is because its principal performer is the miracle behind it all. Venissa Santi is one of those supremely talented new vocalists who blazes, comet-like, across the musical horizon, but once in a lifetime. She joins the likes of Billie Holiday, Abbey Lincoln, Sheila Jordan, Elis, Rosa, Celia, Flora Purim and fewer others [...]

Scott Oakley – Cancion Para Mi Amor (Invisible Music 2008)

How many times has this happened before? A jazz musician - and a very good one, at that - becomes seduced by the music of Cuba (and Latin America). Musicians from Bird and Dizzy to Archie Shepp were… This magnificent obsession continues unabated and is in flood today. A few, such as Toots Thielemans, Hendrick Meurkens, Jane Bunnett and Larry Cramer, and Steve Coleman [...]

The Latin Giants of Jazz – Ven Baila Conmigo (Gigante Records 2009)

It is a daunting task to play in the idioms of jazz, salsa and mambo in a big band setting without the spirit of El Rey, Tito Puente in attendance. But timbalero and musical director, Jose Madera acquits himself with distinction on "Ven Baila Conmigo," this record that explodes with that special energy that Puente imparted to his excursions when he was alive [...]

Grupo Falso Baiano – Viajando Choro e Jazz (Independent 2008)

Of the many non-Brasilian ensembles in the United States besotted with "choro," the music of Brasil and, not simply drawn to it, but actually performing it, Grupo Falso Baiano may very possibly be the finest. The quartet of Jesse Appelman (mandolin), Zack Pitt-Smith (woodwinds), Brian Moran (guitars and cavaquinho) and Ami Molinelli (pandeiro and percussion) [...]

Victor Rendón – Fiesta Percusiva (Private/Independent, 2008)

Fiesta Percusiva, the title of this album by master percussionist and multi-instrumentalist, Victor Rendón does not even begin to describe fully the depth of this project. Sure it is a celebration. Which record driven by Latin rhythms is not? Yet it is much more than this. It is an emotional journey into the world of percussion from various corners of the Latin world [...]

Meeco – Amargo Mel (Connector Records 2009)

Meeco is a rather young musician who appears drawn not simply to the musical idioms of jazz, popular music and a myriad ones in the Latin tradition, he also set out to do what musicians of his age seldom attempt. He made a troubadour record. "Amargo Mel" is a very difficult project to pull off, even if you have a stellar cast that includes the likes of Reggie Moore [...]

Roger Davidson & Raul Jaurena – Pasion Por La Vida (Soundbrush 09)

Pasion Por La Vida is an unusual and memorable record, even by Roger Davidson's standards. It is the third "Latin" record made by Davidson, a pianist influenced by Bill Evans as much as by Chopin. But Pasion Por La Vida takes Davidson's love for the music of South America a shade further than - Mango Tango, Amor Por El Tango and Rogers in Rio [...]
The Joel LaRue Smith Trio - September's Child

Joel LaRue Smith Trio: September’s Child

There is indeed a deep connection between Africa, the Americas, the Caribbean and Europe. As September's Child unfolds the sweeping musical journey begins as...

Eric Kurimski – Réplica (Lima Limon Records 2008)

In Peru, Eric Kurimski observes in the notes of his journey to Lima, the concept of time loosely exists. What a remarkable observation by the musician who became besotted with Peruvian music so much so that he traveled to the small South American country to become one of its most extraordinary exponents. This recording, Replica, the debut for Eric Kurimski, is a seminal document [...]
Mario Adnet - Samba Meets Boogie Woogie

Mario Adnet: Samba Meets Boogie Woogie

This is a truly remarkable recording and features fifteen tracks that make for a stellar tribute bossa nova, before it became the Bossa Nova. These fifteen tracks were all written and most of them were performed during the 1940s and 1950s. There have been many recordings that purport to pay tribute to various historic periods in music, but none have been so exquisitely rendered [...]

Felipe Salles – Timeline (Curare Records 2008)

The angularity of Thelonious Monk melodies together with his idiosyncratic harmonic architecture, surrounded by rhythms that revolve and echo - bouncing off clouds and air. Sheets of Coltrane slicing through the wind, artfully chopped in short strident rhythms that rhyme with the rattle of the tom toms. High hat's chop-chop-ch-ch-ch-chop and rolling rattle of those toms again [...]

Mark Weinstein – Lua e Sol (Jazzheads Records 2008)

The amazing thing about Lua e Sol the new record by Mark Weinstein, is that might easily have passed like a ship in the night. It if did, it would appear to be a case of history repeating itself, for his historic recording, Cuban Roots (Catalogue Music, 1967) was similarly treated - almost as if it did not matter, when in fact it was one of the earliest and most important records [...]

Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet – Infinity (Patois Records 2008)

The attempt to make a thoughtful album and one that is supremely entertaining and musically superlative is perhaps one of the most daunting tasks that a musician can undertake. To find this in an album is rare and that is what makes Infinity by the Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet so much of an event that just cannot be ignored [...]
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